Congratulations to our Waste Free Wednesday challenge honorees — schools that produced the least lunchtime waste or showed the greatest improvement in waste reduction.
To celebrate Earth Day, we joined the Issaquah School District to issue a Waste Free Wednesday challenge to every school in the district.
The challenge was an opportunity for schools to become more aware of their own waste generation and also see how they compared to others throughout the district. Districtwide, 18 schools representing more than 13,000 students and staff, accepted the challenge.
Schools worked to reduce waste through campaigns to educate parents, staff and students. Common ways to reduce waste included eating lunch, bringing leftovers home for snacks, composting food scraps, recycling and using reusable containers for packed lunches.
Schools promoted waste reduction by making presentations at lunch, sending leftovers from packed lunches home for snacks, creating posters, monitoring waste stations utilizing student Green Team members, working with PTSAs on reusable options for lunches and encouraging students to take only what they will eat. School nutrition services created a lunch for the event that had zero waste.
Schools weighed cafeteria waste April 20, 2016. We supported the schools with scales and posters detailing what is recyclable, compostable and garbage.
Schools with the greatest improvement since weighing waste in the fall are Sunset Elementary, Pacific Cascade Middle and Skyline High. Sunset Elementary students cut their waste in half, while Pacific Cascade Middle and Skyline High students reduced their waste to one-third of what they produced at the beginning of the year!
The top three elementary schools, middle school and high school recorded the lowest waste per student on the challenge day.
Elementary leaders are Challenger Elementary with the lowest amount of waste per student in the district — just .0029 pounds per student! Discovery Elementary came in second with .0053 pounds per student and Sunny Hills Elementary claimed third place with .0074 pounds per student.
Pacific Cascade Middle not only showed the greatest reduction since the beginning of the year, but it also recorded the lowest waste per student for middle schools with just .0186 pounds per students. Skyline High was the top high school with .0643 pounds per student.
The biggest winner is the environment. Each of the participating schools reduced waste and instituted changes that will last beyond Earth Day.